It was under a dark and rainy sky that the first round of the Coupe de Montréal started sunday morning at SRA Karting. Less than 50 entrees for what used to be one of the biggest competition in the Quebec karting world. Couple new faces were hanging out around the track trying to figure out what would be their strategy regarding the weather and a first competitive race.
For some others, it was a regular ‘’new season’’. Just under 20 drivers were competing in Briggs & Stratton Senior category. After a full practice morning, 10 minutes qualification, a smart pre-final, everything was set for a good final. That is exactly what I love about karting, you don’t need 45 drivers on the same track to have a smart and talented race.
Simon Bélanger started from pole, as usual, but couple new faces were around to make sure they would give us a good show. And that is exactly what happened, with less than five laps to make to the race the three leaders were battling so hard we did not know who was going to make it first under the checkered flag. Ataya and Pariona, two drivers who worked gracefully to make it hard for Belanger to defend his first position. A bumper to bumper battle that was giving us all the chills, who was going to make a pass or was Bélanger comfortable enough to make sure he would make it a perfect first race. The well known Briggs & Stratton driver handled the pressure and won the finale. A great start to the new season.
One category a lot of drivers were happy to see back on track in Quebec is Shifters. Nine drivers were all over the track making sure to give us a lesson of talent. Knives between their teeth, that is pretty much what kept us all on the tip of our toes. Etienne Lasalle was back behind a steering wheel after a couple years off. The Legrand family was once again on track to have a fun time and Jean François Lafontaine was once again, majestic.
The final start was one in the pocket for the 25 years old driver. The complication Dominic Legrand had on the start gave Lafontaine a short but pleasant advance. Legrand worked his corners perfectly to join Lafontaine with less than six laps left. Defending his first position with grace and talent, Lafontaine had the back of his kart being burnt by Legrand’s will to make it first before the checkered flag drop. The battle exploded on the last lap, Legrand was trying his hardest, and still with a lot of respect, while Lafontaine was trying to handle the pressure and making sure he would make it on time. A couple attempts to pass the race leader but Lafontaine juggled with his resources, knowledge and natural talent to take the first victory of the season. Both drivers were shaking hands on the cool down lap, making sure everybody knew they were having a lot of fun on track together. Everything for a promising season for Shifters in Quebec.
On another hand, the young Justin Arseneau made his Rotax Junior debut battling with only Rotax Senior drivers as he was the only junior to the event. He fought his way through the big leagues starting P3 after qualification and pre-final. Unfortunately, the young driver representing ICAR did not make it on the podium after the decision to leave the track.
The Sodi World Series (SWS) had the morning to complete their regular schedule. One of the biggest categories on track this Sunday. More than 15 drivers were fighting in the rental kart competition and gave us an amazing show to watch. The weather helped a couple drivers to spin out but a lot of joy was felt when we looked at the drivers coming out of track. A series which wins to be known.
Let’s hope for a couple more drivers, a nice weather and great competition for the next round and the Coupe de Montréal should have an amazing summer.
By: Tanya Beaudin for CKN